Another year is coming to an end and with it comes everyone’s best-of lists, including mine. I’ll only be talking about games that I played this year, meaning some high profile games like Uncharted 4 and Civ VI won’t be on the list. Without further adieu, let’s begin!
Best Action/Adventure Game — Far Cry Primal
The Far Cry series is known for one vs. the world action/adventure gameplay in remote lands. Primal takes us to a tribal land where mammoths and sabretooth tigers, both things you can ride, roam free. It’s a great entry in an already excellent franchise. Series veterans will feel right at home with the formula that lets you rise from everyday warrior to tribal leader. Did I mention that you can ride a sabretooth tiger?
Best Handheld/Mobile Game — Severed
I may have only played a handful of games on handheld and mobile platforms this year, but Severed deserves any bit of publicity it can get. I loved Guacamelee, the previous game by Drinkbox Studios, so much that I bought a Vita just to play Severed. It’s beautiful, dark, witty, and challenging. The controls take advantage of the Vita’s touchscreen perfectly. Severed is the second game I’ve got a platinum trophy for and one of the best games of the year.
Best Single Player — Doom
The Doom series is known for blood, demons, and big guns. This year’s release, simply titled Doom, has all of that in spades. The classic Doomguy has all manner of powerful weapon at his disposal from plasma rifles and quadruple barrel shotguns to the legendary BFG. Ripping and tearing demons apart for health forces you to play fast and loose as you bounce between Mars and hell in the best single player campaign of the year.
Best Multiplayer — Overwatch
When Blizzard released Overwatch, their first new IP in 15+ years, the whole world took notice. The arena shooter / hero brawler has taken the multiplayer scene by storm and shows no signs of stopping. A decently sized and balanced roster, eSport support from Blizzard themselves, and a commitment to releasing all DLC for free catapults Overwatch into the all-timer discussion.
Biggest Surprise — Titanfall 2
I didn’t have much interest in Titanfall 2 after missing the first game back in 2014. Positive reivews and a sale led to me buying it and I am so glad that I did. The level of pure fun Respawn Entertainment packed into a six hour FPS campaign is remarkable. Speed, style, and giant robots make it hard to do anything but grin when playing Titanfall 2, whether it be during the campaign or in multiplayer. It caught me off guard in the best of ways with humor, emotion, and tight gameplay.
Biggest Disappointment — No Man’s Sky
This was a bit of a toss up with Mighty No. 9, but that game was doomed far before its release due to delays, spinoff Kickstarters, and poor marketing. No Man’s Sky takes the cake as the biggest disappointment of 2016 based on the story you’ve probably heard: the game is teased years back at The Game Awards, hyped like no other, and absolutely hammered for failing to deliver on most of its promises. The developers, Hello Games, follow that up with a nearly 100 day long silence broken by an update that, to be fair, fixed some of the problems. No Man’s Sky was never going to live up to its lofty expectations and while I admit that I did enjoy most of the time I put into it, it’s clearly the biggest letdown of the year.
Most Interesting Mechanic — Quantum Break
Time travel and meaningful story decisions make Quantum Break a pretty good game, but the mixing in of a live TV show brings it to another level. The show, broken into four episodes, stars some well known actors like Aidan Gillan and Lance Riddick and is shaped by choices you make while playing the game. The show is far from a gimmick and adds a lot to the experience as a whole. I applaud Remedy Entertainment for pushing the boundaries of what a game can be with Quantum Break.
Best Indie Game — Thumper
What is a “rhythm violence” game, you say? Thumper, that’s what. At its heart, Thumper is a simple game of pressing X to the beat of the pounding bass. When you add death defying speed, a high degree of difficulty, and trippy visuals, it becomes unforgettable. Navigating a silver beetle down a track while avoiding spikes and lasers at breakneck speeds demands all of your focus, but is worth it if you can handle it. Anyone who enjoys rhythm games in any capacity needs to play Thumper. An honorable mention to Hyper Light Drifter, a seemingly rare Kickstarter success story.
Game of the Year — Overwatch
Overwatch is my pick for this year’s best of the best and that’s not due to my Blizzard-tinted glasses. The competitive nature of Overwatch can be enjoyed at whatever level you want — unranked play, seasonal ladders, or the pro scene. No matter how poorly you are playing, you are always one well-timed ultimate away from locking up a win and immortalizing a play of the game. A steady stream of updates, including new heroes and game modes, drives home the fact that Blizzard really knocked it out of the park with Overwatch, my game of the year.